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Interview of Mike L - 2016
Interview by REV with Intellivision Revolution
An Interview of a long time Intellivision fan and collector. Meet Mike, a retired police officer of 27 years from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
When was the first time you played Intellivision?
I've lived in Milwaukee all my life and grew up near a Sears Department store, and that is where I played Intellivision for the first time. I am a little older than most Intellivision collectors (I was a freshmen in high school when Intv came out in 1980) so I would walk to Sears and play the Super Video Arcade for hours, until the mean clerk would kick me out! We had an Atari, and we didn't have alot of money, so getting a new Intellivision was out of the question. I graduated high school in 1983, had a job as a butchers apprentice and made decent money. Thats when I bought myself a shiny new Intellivision II....and I never looked back! I still have my original Intellivision II, along with two more consoles (one I've modded for composite output) and have amassed a nice little collection. It's a great console and a great hobby. I have gotten more active in the community since retirement. I make my own boxes for loose games that I have. I discovered the Intellivisionaries podcast, got to talking with Nurmix, and eventually had the honor of making the box inserts for his Dual Action Controller.
Back in 1983 and shortly after, did you realize that the video game crash was going on? Did you see and pick up any games in the clearance bins?
You know, I did know it was going on, but at the time I didn't know why. In the mid 80's we had a store called Zayere's, think K-mart but even junkier! They had an electronics dept. and had huge floor bins filled with video games for like $1. I do remember picking up Treasure of Tarmin and a couple of other non-rare games for Intv there...but to my determent, I didn't pick up the weird games from unknown publishers because at the time I thought they were crap and would never be worth the plastic they were made of. Also, I did pick up alot of bargin C64 titles because that was my 8bit computer phase time. Oh, I could just kick myself, because I do remember those bins filled with obscure junk for EVERY system for like $3 or less.
Did you go to or hang around arcades? What was some of your favorite arcade games?
Yes. We had an Aladdin's Castle, Go Bananas, Sega's Time Out, among others whose names escape me.
Also, in the mid 80's my buddy's dad owned a novelty company and he and I were runners for the company. We'd be on call until 11:00 pm with our pagers and had to go our various accounts and fix jukeboxes, dart machines and video games when they broke down. We also did collections, covered pool tables, and got to go to the local distributor with our credentials and play the new video games coming out for free for hours at a time. It was a fun time in my life, and where I got the arcade bug and the know how to tinker with them. Three of my favorites were an early vector game called Tail Gunner, Congo Bongo, and my all time favorite...TRON!
What was the first Intellivisionaries episode you heard, and how did you find it?
I was actually searching podcast feeds for "Intellivision" and found Nurmix, Rick and Will. I started with the first episode. I posted of my MAME machine and the boxes I make on their facebook page, and thats how I started talking to the guys. Nurmix remembered my boxes when he was about to roll out his Dual Action Controller and he contacted me to see if I'd like to collaborate on the box inserts. After many emails and prototypes, I printed out the final product, shipped em off the Nurmix, and now my inserts are whats in the box!
What do friends and family think of your video game hobby?
I am an island, my friend. My family really couldn't care less. My wife never touches it, my twenty one year old daughter has no favorite old games, and my thirteen year old son only likes PS3, XBOX360 and above.
I truly don't understand how people can live with an arcade machine that plays everything and don't want to touch it!!
What are some of your most favorite games?
Hands down, my favorite game is Burgertime. I just love that game and consistently get over 275,000. Tied for second are the two D&D games, I've always been a sucker for a good adventure. I can get lost in Treasure of Tarmin for hours at a time. I also love all the games by Imagic, they made such innovative games and most were Intellivision exclusives.
Which Imagic game is your 'go to' game?
I know it's weird, but my first Imagic game is still my favorite....Safecracker. I didn't get Truckin', Dracula, or Ice Trek until I started collecting in recent years, but now I love those too. I just recently got White Water.
Any interesting or memorable situations surrounding games?
Two years before I retired, I was transferred to a new district and met a co-worker who found out I was an old Intellivision geek. He told me he had a box full of stuff that he thought was intellivision related at his parents house, and asked if I wanted it. You can guess what my reply was. When he brought the box in I almost fell over. In the box were 2 consoles, an original woody and an Intellivision III with the red LED power light, and a whole load of games which included Chip Shot, Slap Shot, Pac Man, Centipede, Motocross, and Mission X! Not a bad haul...and all I had to do was buy him lunch!
A very nice score!, do you keep duplicates or sell/trade them?
I always pick up duplicates when I find them in the wild, or try to upgrade some of my ratty boxes. I'd like to trade, but the retro scene is pretty slim. The only bright spot is the yearly Midwest Gaming Classic, which just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Without that show, the only place I'd ever find things around here is on ebay.
What systems have you played and owned over the years?
For Intellivision I have my original Intv II, an original woody, which I've modded for composite video, and a black Intv III. I also currently own my original Atari 2600, my original NES deluxe set with ROB, an Atari 5200, and a Vectrex with a Sean Kelly multicart. Over the years I've had a Fairchild channel F, Sega Master System, Sega CD, Sega Genesis w/ 32X, a Pong clone, an Odyssey 2, SNES, N64, Gamecube, PSX, and an original XBOX.
What was your life like before video games became so popular, what was some of your hobbies back then?
Like I said, I'm the man of a thousand hobbies...and still am. In the 70's I was really into model rocketry. I had alot then which I wish I still had, but crashes and destruction is the nature of the beast. I also have collected Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators books since I was 10, and just recently finished putting a full set of hardcovers, a pretty big feat nowadays, those later books in hardcover are almost harder to come by than a boxed Spiker. By the way, the books are a passion I share with Ferg of the Atari Game By Game Podcast. We have conversed about the books and I even sent him a box of my doubles.
I still buy rockets, especially the historical ones, and enjoy building them more than flying them. My thirteen year old and me launch them together, it's alot of fun.
Do you play modern games? If so which ones?
Yes, I am still hooked on video games. I have a PS3 (my third one....I've had to re-flow two of them) XBOX360(my second one, had to re-flow the other) and my wii. They just don't make em like they used to. Another project is my MAME arcade cabinet (it's actually my avatar on atari age forums) it is fully functional, including a one button start up and functioning coin slots w/ LED lights, a lighted trackball, and a TRON stick with original blue cover!
Did you build your arcade cabinet from scratch or refurbish an older one?
A retired Policeman friend of mine owns two novelty companies, so when I decided I wanted to do this, I reached out to him. I told him I wanted a wide machine so I could make a large control panel, so he set aside a Gauntlet machine for me......for free! All it cost me was a bottle of Tanguary!
What are some games that you wished had come out, but were cancelled on Intellivision?
I had always wished the third D&D game had come out, but since that became Tower of Doom, I guess that doesn't count. I also wish the Parker Brothers Star Wars games would've hit the shelves. Oh, and maybe the Smurf game.
Sydney Hunter by Collectorvision was 'inspired' by Smurf, have you seen or played this game?
Yes, I've watched it on Youtube, but it's a little too expensive for me now.
What are your most rare games? How many games do you own?
I have a boxed Diner which I bought from the INTV catalog. And I have most of the Imagic catalog complete in box, like Truckin' with the map. Chip Shot, Slap Shot,Slam Dunk, Super Pro Football, Hover Force, Triple Challange, World Championship Baseball, Motocross, Pac Man, Centipede, and Mission X. My Unique game count is at 75 and rising. I may not ever hit 125, but I'm gonna keep trying. Now if I could just score one of those cool LTO Flash carts!
Did you get to order a copy of Spiker?!?
Rub a little lemon juice in that wound why don't ya! I always got those catalogs and the only thing I ever ordered was Diner, because Burgertime was my favorite game. I was still a rookie at that time, young, single, and working overtime like it was going out of style, and spending alot of time in court. I had enough money to buy everything in that catalog two times over, but I was more interested in going out and meeting girls during any off time I had at that point. My Intellivision just sat quietly in a box in the basement for many years.
Do you own any homebrew releases for Intellivision?
Unfortunately, the only homebrews I have are on emulation. I am the man of a thousand hobbies and just don't have the budget for $50 to $75 games. I do love Christmas Carol and DK arcade. One I may have to buy is Lost Caves of Kroz, it looks awesome!
Would you purchase lower priced cartridge only releases, or is emulation fine with you on homebrews?
For $15 to $20 I would, without a doubt. I just can't justify $60 to $75 each when it will impact my other hobbies, not to mention my family / kids responsibility. I do tend to buy hardware more often than software. I have a Colecovision Daptor (also for Intv, and Sega) for controllers to USB, I have bought AV mods for my old systems, and made a Retro Pi. After all that I can't afford the software. I don't begrudge the authors, as I know what kind of monetary and time investment they have made in their products, and think that their prices are actually in-line.......I just can't afford them.
What are some of your other current hobbies?
Rockets, Reading, and Camping. My retirement gift to myself was a small pop up camper, and my son and I love state park trips where we can ride our mountain bikes on the trails, and do some Geocaching (yet another hobby!)
Any message to anyone on the line about purchasing an Intellivision?
I would say stick with either the original woody, the Intellivision III, or the Super Pro System. They are all the original configuration and are very eaisly modded for composite output, and with a couple of Nurmix's excellent controller adapters, you can use the great Flashback controllers.
Was you surprised the Intellivision Flashback was released after all this time?
No, not at all. Not with a consummate salesman like Keith Robinson championing the Intellivision cause. With all the great Intellivision Lives software, of which I own almost all of them, I was surprised the Intellivision wasn't first when the TV games started coming out. I feel bad for the guy the Atgames seems to have kind of shafted him. I sure there can be an Intellivision Flashback II, I follow Keith on facebook and wish him nothing but the best.